Messing About


The storm wind whipping across the surface of this storybook-sized pond makes me think of Kenneth Grahame’s Water Rat in Wind in the Willows. I can see Ratty, in a slicker and storm hat fashioned from alder leaves, sailing his skunk cabbage boat across the pond’s riled surface. “Aki,” he might call out, “There is simply nothing—absolutely nothing—half so much worth doing, than messing about in boats.”

My little poodle-mix is a herder, not a water dog. The only reason she willingly boards our canoe is to avoid being left on the beach. If she and the water rat shared a common tongue, Aki would shout out, “Then you have never tried sniffing pee.” Having checked out all the messages left by prior canine visitors, she gives me her “let’s move it” stare, which shatters my illusion.


It’s good that I followed her lead. The fifty-mile-an-hour gusts that ripple the protected pond surface rip through the forest canopy. We have just pasted a half-score of hemlocks tumbled by similar storms.


Hundreds of crows huddle near the shoreline when we break out of the woods. Some hop about while others fly back and forth along the beach. Maybe the wind has them nervous. Or maybe, they are just messing about.


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